By William M. Briggs
Excerpt: We can only hope it is money lust that drives lawyer Donald Braman and “public citizen” David Arkush in their avowed hatred of oil sellers. For if it is their true conviction that oil companies are ackshually guilty of homicide, then something has gone badly wrong with their thinking.
The pair took to the Harvard Environmental Law Review with their plea “Climate Homicide: Prosecuting Big Oil For Climate Deaths“.
This being a law review piece, they stuff in page after tedious page of text and footnotes (the whole is 70 pages!) pointing to prior cases they hope justifies prosecuting a company for what it didn’t do. I am too ignorant of the law to criticize the niceties of their legal argument. But I can guess they might get away with it, especially given that many in their audience will be driven by the love of money. Which is the root, etc.
So let’s instead tackle the argument that using oil is homicide. Opening paragraph:
Activists and journalists declaim the executives of ExxonMobil, Shell, and other large oil companies as “mass murderers.” Lamenting that “millions of human beings will die so that they can have private planes and huge mansions,” they talk of “[d]ragging the corporate titans who profited from driving the world to the brink before a judge.” But as of this writing, no prosecutor in any jurisdiction is bringing homicide charges of any kind against fossil fuel companies (FFCs) for even a single death related to climate change. They should.
Pointing to what activists and journalists “declaim” about any matter should, to any sane person, signal that was is about to follow is at best hyperbolic putricity (you heard me), and at worst is, as the Brits say, utter bollocks.
Here we have a combination of both. To which we add the cardinal sin of hypocrisy, because, as I don’t need to tell you, but will, every one of these zealots uses fossil fuels, even if at a distance, and if only to charge their electric car.
And in the ink to print their article. So if using oil is murder—and it has to be murder and not manslaughter, for our authors know of what they do—then lawyer Donald Braman and “public citizen” David Arkush are murderers. Perhaps they’ll turn themselves in?
If it isn’t ink, it’s the gas they put in their cars, or the fuel in the planes in which they fly, or in heating or cooling their home, or running the electricity to pay for their Netflix accounts, or in manufacturing the clothes they wear, or in the plastic which surrounds them in their own homes, or in growing the food they eat.
There is no way these sad individuals can remove the charge of hypocrisy, or escape the logic of their own argument. Best they can do is screech and scream and hope to distract you by insisting there are bigger criminals—and murder is a crime, except perhaps soon in Maryland—than them. But it does not follow that they are not guilty just because others are.
Here’s proof, in the very next paragraph:
The case for homicide prosecutions is increasingly compelling. A steady growth in the information about what FFCs knew and what they did with that knowledge is revealing a story of antisocial conduct generating lethal harm so extensive it may soon become unparalleled in human history.
If this “lethal harm”, caused by use of oil, is indeed “unparalleled in human history”, then our authors, who knowingly participate in this lethal harm, damn themselves.
None of this can, or must, be taken seriously. The charge is absurd. It is asinine. It can only be the result of, as I said, lowly greed, or worse, profound stupidity and irresponsibility.
Likely the latter, because they say ridiculous things like this: “Scientists believe we are perilously close to—or perhaps beyond—triggering tipping points that would inexorably drive cataclysmic warming, resulting in Earth systems that could kill millions or even billions of humans.”
I’m a scientist. I say no such thing. If you’re interested in the uncertainties inherent in the science of climatology, please read this.